From School Library Journal
Grade 5-9–In this prequel to The Deptford Mice trilogy, Elias Theophratus Spittle, an evil alchemist, tricks Will Godwin into working as his assistant in his apothecary shop. Sent on a hideous task, Will stumbles onto a cat with three kittens in a dreary graveyard. Chilled to the bone and starving, the felines are rescued by Will and brought back to the shop. Convinced that he is in need of a familiar, Doctor Spittle agrees to let them stay. Will's act of kindness leads to a spiraling tale of sorcery, betrayal, murder, and eventually the evil rise of Jupiter, Lord of All. The book is filled with adventure, suspense, and a feeling of dread. However, parts of it move very slowly, particularly in the beginning. Still, Jarvis closes with an unexpected cliff-hanger that will have readers craving more books about Jupiter. Fans of this series and the "Redwall" audience will enjoy this book.–Christine McGinty, Newark Public Library, NY
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Gr. 5-8. This creepy, atmospheric horror tale, the first in the Deptford Histories and a scary prequel to the Deptford Mice trilogy, reveals how Jupiter, Lord of the Darkness, became so evil and so powerful. Orphaned Will Godwin arrives in London in 1664, summoned by an uncle he doesn't know. After being falsely accused of murder, he flees a mob and ends up in the hands of a wicked alchemist, Elias Theophratus Spittle, who forces Will into servitude. On a late-night errand in winter, Will is pursued and almost caught. He finds refuge in an overgrown graveyard, where he comes upon a mother cat and three young kittens, which he carries back to his master's apothecary shop. The streets of London are vividly realized in all their smell, filth, and disease, as is Spittle's laboratory with its noxious potions, smoke, and evil doings. Jarvis delivers a vivid tale of treachery, cruelty, and sorcery, leavened only by Will's innate goodness. It's also a real page-turner, guaranteed to mesmerize readers of the trilogy. Sally EstesCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved